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More cruise ships could come to Seattle with port seeking new terminal

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SEATTLE -- It's no secret that summer is tourist season in Seattle, and it could soon be getting a lot more crowded.

The Port of Seattle is taking steps to open a new cruise ship terminal on the waterfront just south of Pioneer Square. It would be the city's third terminal, and give cruise operators another berth for Alaska trips.

On Tuesday, the Port voted to look for a partnership to develop a single berth cruise facility at Terminal 46.

An additional cruise terminal would "realign" current cargo operations at Terminal 46, port officials said in a release. The terminal project is contingent on the authorization of a new lease at Terminal 5 in West Seattle.

The cruise tourism industry has boomed in Seattle since becoming a port for Alaska sailings in 1999. According to the port, the industry generates almost a billion dollars for the state and thousands of jobs.

More than 1 million passengers are expected in the city for the upcoming spring and summer season.

"A lot of people think waterfront businesses and hotels and that sort of thing," said Port of Seattle Commissioner Stephanie Bowman. "But they forget about the businesses that provide goods and services for the cruise ships. Seafood, wine, piano tuners and that sort of thing. All of those are local companies."

Preliminary reports estimate the cost of a new terminal to be around $200 million. A public-private partnership would have the port chipping in about half that, a spokesman said.

The port hopes to have the terminal finished by 2022. A tentative timeline of the project was released:

  • April 18, 2019: RFQ responses due from proposers.
  • Late spring: Release Request for Proposals (RFP) to RFQ shortlist.
  • Early Fall 2019: Port launches environmental review and permitting process.
  • Fall/Winter 2019: Port Commission approval of final agreement
  • 2022 Cruise Season: Target begin cruise operations at Terminal 46; project delivery might change when a partner is chosen and design finalized.
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